A career overview for surgical technicians in Ohio
A surgical technician (sometimes called a surgical technologist or an operating room technician), in Ohio and elsewhere, assists doctors, nurses and other medical professionals before, during and after surgeries (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). They may prepare both patients and operating rooms prior to surgery taking place. These duties may include sterilizing, cleaning and ensuring that surgical equipment is working properly, cleansing and dressing patients, and transporting them to appropriate surgical areas or other medical rooms. During surgery, a surgical technician may assist in passing instruments to medical assistants or surgeons and may be responsible for storing specimens or taking them to laboratory areas for review.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites several qualities important for a surgical technician to possess. Because precision is a vital component of all surgeries, it is necessary for all of those operating in this field to pay close attention to detail. A surgeon may ask the technician for an instrument or supply during an operation and are counting on receiving the correct tool quickly, so surgical techs should be dexterous and comfortable working with their hands. Surgical technicians should also have the stamina to withstand long hours in the operating room and be able to perform well under pressure (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).
Surgical Tech School Programs in Ohio: Precision tools of the trade
Those interested in pursuing a career as a surgical technician generally need to have either an associate degree or a postsecondary certification, notes the BLS (2012). High school courses in health, chemistry, biology, and mathematics are a good foundation to begin with. Certification may also be beneficial in finding a position, and a few states and the District of Columbia regulate surgical technologists. For more information on certification, students can consult The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, the National Center for Competency Testing, or the National HealthCareer Association.
Students who are looking for programs for surgical tech in Ohio can begin searching through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). EducationNews.org has a page that provides information specific to surgical technology schools in Ohio, including a map and listing of locations throughout the state offering accredited surgical tech programs, a number of which are at community colleges and vocational schools. Such programs typically range in length from a few months to two years, resulting in a certificate or associate degree upon successful completion (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Courses in a surgical technology education may include anatomy, biology, medical terminology and often combine classroom, laboratory and on-site clinical practice. Aspiring technologists are also trained in sterilization techniques and how to prevent and control infections, all with an eye toward providing the highest level of care for patients.
Students in a surgical tech program receive training in operating the different tools that may be used while assisting during surgeries. One example of a type of tool a surgical technologist may be asked to use is electrosurgical equipment, more specifically a thermal cautery unit. A thermal cautery unit is used to stop or control bleeding during surgery. Once the tip of the cautery unit becomes heated, technicians will use it to vaporize patient's cells and shrink tissue, causing blood vessels to contract. In a high-stakes environment such as an operating room, it is imperative that surgical technicians be trained and confident when using such equipment on the job.
From Surgical Tech Schools in Ohio to the Real World as a Surgical Tech
Upon completion of an Ohio surgical technician school, students may begin their search for jobs in the field with the knowledge that Ohio ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to employment of surgical technicians. In May of 2011, more than 3,500 surgical techs were employed Ohio. The BLS reports that the average salary for a surgical technician in Ohio in May 2011 was $40,330, with an hourly mean wage of $19.39.
Ohio job seekers may choose to seek employment with a number of different types of medical institutions, with medical hospitals employing the largest number of surgical technologists. Other medical service establishments where positions may be available for surgical technologists include the following:
- medical and surgical hospitals
- physician offices
- outpatient care centers
- dentist offices
- specialty hospitals (excluding psychiatric or substance abuse facilities)
Some specific institutions in Ohio that may be looking to hire health care team members such as surgical techs include Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery, MetroHealth System, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Kettering Health Network, ProMedica, and the Cleveland Clinic. With its prolific offerings of surgical tech schools, encouraging employment outlook, and well-respected medical establishments, Ohio has much to offer aspiring surgical technologists.